Journalists Accuse British Government as Axe Falls on BBC

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its European group, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) today accused the British Government of "reckless disregard" for people's right to quality information following the announcement that the BBC, the world's leading public broadcaster, is to suffer punitive cuts in its budget.

A potential casualty is output from the BBC World Service which is renowned internationally for high quality journalism that has inspired campaigns for more press freedom in some of the world's most troubled regions where political rights are routinely denied.

"The sudden imposition of drastic cuts at the BBC threatens not only jobs and quality journalism," said Aidan White, IFJ/EFJ General Secretary. "It also shows reckless disregard for the global campaign for people's right to knowledge and political freedom."

The cuts at the BBC which amount to around 340 million pounds over the next four years were imposed at the last minute as the government put the finishing touches to a comprehensive round of spending cuts across the national economy.

The government has told the BBC to shoulder its World Service which has hitherto been paid for by the money allocated to the Foreign Ministry. It has also had its licence fee frozen for six years.

"These cuts will damage an institution which provides a unique service at home and is an inspiration for millions abroad," said White.

The IFJ and EFJ last week signed up to a new global campaign launched in Geneva by trade unions leaders around the world to defend quality public services.

"This action against the BBC illustrates how vulnerable public broadcasters are when governments show a lack of respect for the public interest value of journalism and information in building democratic, tolerant and informed societies," added White.

For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 07

The IFJ represents more than 600.000 members in 125 countries